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RIL’s cable companies argue with Star ahead of IPL
Three major multi-systems operators (MSOs) – Hathway Cable & Datacom, DEN Networks and Gujarat’s dominant operator GTPL Hathway – are signaling an all-out war for eyeballs ahead of the 2023 Indian Premier League (IPL) season Disney Star they Star Sports – will remove channels from their base packages.
Reliance Industries Ltd, which holds a controlling interest in Viacom18, the digital media rights holder for IPL, has a controlling interest in DEN and Hathway and an indirect 28% interest in GTPL Hathway.
An email request sent to Reliance Industries yielded no response as of press time, while senior officials in the three MSOs also did not respond to requests for comment.
GTPL Hathway’s website reveals that the basic package (Power Lite Pack), which costs £325 a month, will not include Star Sports channels from April 1st.
A source in Disney Star confirmed the development but brushed it off as a pressure tactic and said sales teams are negotiating.
There was a massive campaign of disruption early last month when the top three broadcasters shut down signals to these cable operators after failing to implement the new amended tariff rules. And experts believe that the removal of Star Sports channels just ahead of the IPL may result in a further drop in subscribers as viewers may switch to digital or to DTH (direct-to-home) services.
The move will force subscribers to these MSOs to opt for either higher-value packages or Star Sports channels a la carte.
Together, the three MSOs have a 12.5% share of the pay-TV universe. GTPL Hathway has 8 million subscribers while Hathway has 4.7 million and DEN serves 4 million subscribers nationwide.
A media analyst said if these channels are removed from the base packages, Star Sports will suffer some drop in ratings.
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